Alone in a pit latrine, a Grade R learner died – now, a nation waits to find out whether anyone will be punished, or whether anything will change – other, of course, than the arrival of Portaloos at his school this week
The generalised sanitation scandal in South Africa took a new and sickening dip into unreality when a young Polokwane boy fell into a long drop and died. The next day, the province’s embattled education department – mostly famous in South Africa for its inability to deliver textbooks on time – arrived at Mahlodinela Primary School, about 10km outside Polokwane.
The Province had brought portable toilets in the wake of the Grade R pupil’s death, but it was too late for the family of young Michael Komape. His father asked why it took the sacrifice of a young life for the school to gain something already guaranteed by the Constitution. Beeld that 36 Limpopo schools have no ablution facilities at all, a figure exceeded only by the Eastern Cape.
In both provinces, education teeters between a provincial and a national-level emergency, but even for hardened followers of education news, Michael Komape’s last moments are beyond imagining. At time of going to press, no one had resigned from their jobs, and no one had been punished, although a South African Human Rights Commission probe has now been promised. The community around Mahlodinela Primary must find it ironic that a probe is needed so that Pretoria can understand what they already know: school infrastructure in Limpopo is broken.
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